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Second Homes proposition “killed off”

Bainbridge, 28 February, 2018

YDNPA Chairman Carl Lis has said a proposition to increase Council Tax on second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – made as part of wide-ranging plans to retain young families in the area, and attract others – has in effect been “killed off”.

Last night, Richmondshire District Council voted by 13-12 against joining with other local authorities in seeking talks with government “on the options available for increasing Council Tax for second homes within the Yorkshire Dales National Park”.

Mr Lis praised Richmondshire District Council Leader, Yvonne Peacock, for ensuring it was brought before the full council. Parts of Richmondshire have the highest levels of second homes in the National Park – over a quarter of the housing in some parishes.   

In a statement, he said: “It would be remiss of me not to make clear to the public that the proposition to talk to Government has in effect been killed off.  In my view, the decision has let down local communities by stopping the conversation before it had properly started.

“Richmondshire District Council has rejected the view that too many second homes can have an adverse impact on the viability of local communities. It has also rejected the view that there are too many second homes in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.  I think many people living in the National Park will be staggered by those conclusions.

“It’s interesting to note that opponents to this simple proposition to have a conversation with Government on the second homes issue in the National Park have not put forward any of their own suggestions on what we should do to address it. What level of unoccupied and under occupied homes in our Dales villages do they think will present a problem, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%?

“The Dales is characterised by strong, self-reliant communities.   But, there is no doubt in my mind that some of these communities have been considerably weakened in the past 20 years by – among other factors – the rapid growth in unoccupied and under-occupied housing.  Empty houses do not make for vibrant villages.  The dramatically shrunken rolls at some primary schools tell the story most powerfully of all.  This issue isn’t going to go away and it is a source of sadness to me that all we have done is to pass these problems to the next generation to sort out.

“We will continue to work with our local authority partners to develop the wider ‘Attracting Families’ initiative, of which the second homes proposition was one part. Communities in the National Park still need more affordable housing, better broadband and greater sustainable economic development.  It will just be that much harder to deliver those things while we continue to lose the existing housing stock to second homes.

“Finally, I would like to thank the local and regional press and media for giving the second homes issue coverage in the past two months – and in particular for the editorials which were supportive of the proposition.”

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